Louisiana is home to some incredible creatures and these remain a mystery for most! Bats are definitely around, and you might see them flying at dusk often just one or two flying around but there are still huge colonies here.Having been involved in bat removal for almost 20 years I have come to appreciate them more and more. As you will see in this article they are actually quite fascinating. As little as they are they can attain horizontal flight faster than any other bird or mammal. I will go into detail on the strange and super cool things we know about these bats and hopefully at the end you will have learned something new!
The two main types of bats that you might encounter are the Mexican Free-Tailed Bat and the Evening bat as these types of bats are colonialist, meaning they like to be together. In fact, even though they are two distinct species that in no way interbreed they do often live together in the same roost!
In short here is a list of the most interesting things, further down I will go into more detail on each subject with links to support what I am telling you is a fact! I will also go into what I call learned knowledge in the field and some theory based on my experiences.
Now lets talk about each one of these! I will go into a lot of detail so get ready to learn just how cool these animals are!
Top 10 Interesting Facts About Bats In Louisiana
- These bats are the fastest horizontal flying animals on earth! Reaching speeds exceeding 100 MPH – yes you read that right!
- They pollinate sugar cane.
- They do not eat mosquitos – yep another myth!
- Bright lights do not deter them from roosting in your attic
- Ultra sonic devices do NOT work either!
- They can see very well and are not blind.
- They have been seen on radar above 10k feet – yes again you read that right!
- They can travel 3-500 miles in a night during migration, sorry you cannot just relocate these bats!
- They call “dibs” in the air when hunting for food.
- The guano (bat poop) doesn’t have an odor its the urine!
Number one: Free-Tailed Bats are the fastest animals around!
How fast are bats? Bats are the fastest horizontally flying animals around. Sure birds can dive at blinding speeds but bats can have bursts of speed unmatched by any other animal!
You can check out the scientific research performed here: This isn’t an article about the research this is actually the research itself, https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.160398 reading through it, you will find that there was a recorded speed of 60.1 meters per second which translates into 134 MPH.
This document shows recorded speeds of over 130 mph bursts with an average of 60-100 mph flights. One thing to consider is they were using GPS tracking and since we know bats DO NOT fly in a straight line this means they probably move faster than we can realize with tracking devices! That’s pretty damned fast for such a small animal! Thank goodness when they get into a home they seem to fly slowly but for sure, when they get going to full speed they have the ability to make unbelievably fast moves.
Number Two: The Free-Tailed bats around here actually do help pollinate sugar cane.
Some farmers have experimented with placing speakers in the fields and playing the noises that bats make when they feed to try and bring in more bats to the area, thus helping to not only pollinate but to help get rid of the bugs that can damage the crop! Farmers are pretty smart! By allowing the bats to feed in the field it serves a dual purpose, to pollinate and protect! Alternatively as a side note, the use of sound to deter bats from wind turbines has also shown to be effective for certain species – but make no mistake audio deterrents to keep bats away from a residence just don’t work in practice. The bats can avoid the sounds as the noise doesn’t penetrate wall voids or effectively go around corners making it useless.
Number 3: Free-Tailed Bats DO NOT eat mosquitos.
I hear it all of the time and people are certain that they do but the truth is they just don’t. Yes, it is possible that they might nothing is impossible but the US government funded a study going through TONS of guano looking for a shred of evidence and it turned up NOTHING. There is some fundamental issues with bats feeding on mosquitos anyways, mosquitos prefer to fly at or around ground level while bats fly high! Much higher than the mosquitos do. In fact most bat roosts are at about 8-30 feet off the ground and when the leave the roost they drop into the air and go UPWARDS and often fly thousands of feet in the air when feeding and traveling. Their primary diet is moths and beetles which are more agricultural pests so they are doing great work for us regardless. Citation: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1373673
Number 4 and 5: Bright lights and Ultra-Sonic Devices DO NOT work to get rid of Free-Tailed bats.
Bright lights and ultra-sonic repellents do not work and in fact can actually help to attract bats instead of repel. Those bright lights you thought might help deter them work to attract insects so in one way you are attracting more bats to feed. Devices that emit sound to confuse and deter bats have one fatal flaw and that is that these sounds quickly lose their force when trying to permeate a wall. The sounds just fizzle off. so even if you put one of these in an attic, the sound doesn’t carry well down into a wall void so the bats will probably just move further down into the wall to avoid the noise. a bright light or a sound emitting device at the entrance of a roost will cause them to just enter the roost from another place and then once inside those things can no longer affect them.
Number 6: Yes Free-Tailed bats have excellent eyesight!
Bats can not only see well in normal light they can also see quite well in low light conditions, they see color as well as UV light. You can read some research here on this:
So as you will find all over the internet, bats are not blind and in fact have great eyesight. Combine this with echolocation and you got yourself a whole new way to see the world – much better. There isn’t a whole lot of research in this field and if you can find more let me know! I am looking for research papers from the scientific community.
Number 7: Our Local Free-Tailed Bats Fly High!
So yes you guessed it Bats from around here, like Mandeville, Covington and New Orleans are well known to fly at heights of 10k feet
Heres another research paper for more reading: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348722706_Bats_Flying_at_High_Altitudes
It is suspected they feed at these altitudes as well as travel using tail-winds. To me one of the most interesting aspects of this is temperatures. Free-Tailed bats prefer an optimal temperature of 105 to raise young and I can attest that they prefer warm climates yet the temperature up there is cold, very cold. SO they prefer hot conditions to roost in and cold environments to spend most of their time flying and feeding in! very interesting indeed!
Number 8: How far do Free-Tailed bats travel?
It has been observed that the nightly routine is approximately within a 35-50 mile range however when migrating they can travel 3-500 miles in a night. This is important to us as people who remove bats, and get rid of them from dwelling in residential and commercial buildings because there are products out there called bat traps. Some companies still think that you can relocate bats, because they can fly great distances they really cannot be relocated. Bat traps are for research purposes only not to solve bat problems. The best resource I recommend is Batcon.org you can read more here: https://www.batcon.org/article/the-lives-of-mexican-free-tailed-bats/
Number 9: Free-Tailed Bats call dibs!
It makes sense that they do, bats are social animals and live in colonies or roosts so it just makes sense that they communicate in just about every way needed to survive. When they are in mid flight hunting they let each other know that this particular moth is theirs with calls letting others know their intent. As science moves forward we will probably learn that they also communicate in group hunting activities not just for themselves. They also call to one another to find their young, and to let each other know if they are interested in each other or not. They sing to each other and the females will let the males know who might be the lucky guy! Here are two links worth your time.
Finally Number 10: Free-Tailed Bat Guano Has No Odor
While I cannot point to a single scientific article of research, I do know this to be true. The guano itself is essentially odorless unless it becomes soaked in the bats urine. I have seen and handled a lot of it. It’s a dry feces that crumbles easily. That being said there is a lot of evidence that unlike other animal feces bat droppings can support life and boy does it! The cave floors with several feet deep piles have an unknown number of living creatures who thrive in it. If your looking to get bats to go into and use a newly installed bat house, you will want some of the urine stained guano to rub along the base entrance of it because it is strongly believed that scent plays a major role in roost selection. We already know bats identify their young partly through scent. It stands to reason this scent will attract nearby bats in the future.
Wrapping this post up, I want to convey some other things that although not supported by any known science seem to make sense and maybe one-day will be studied and proven. I believe that when the sexes segregate ( after mating) which that part is a known fact – the males go off on their own to form bachelor colonies. I believe that when they do they urinate in these areas. Again, this much is known science. My conjecture here is that when bats do migrate into an area looking for a roost site, what some people think is a “new” bat problem is actually a colony moving into a previous bachelor colony roost site. I firmly believe this is how maternal colonies find new places to live. People ask me what made the bats move here when there is a house next door that is in horrible shape. I think it’s because that’s where the males went the previous year, so it smells familiar to them in a way.
I love helping people with bat problems and I have spent many long hours researching and learning as much about them as I can. This post contains the most relevant and useful links out there on these topics. I have included links that refer directly to the science because there just isn’t any one place that has all of this information in one place, especially about the bats of Louisiana.
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